The question in the title echoes a similar question asked by many professionals in the fields of marketing and lead generation: What determines the quality of a lead?
This in turn would bring further questions to mind:
Who benefits from a lead?
It’s common knowledge (especially among B2B organizations) that a lead is, first and foremost, an opportunity for sales. It represents a certain organization who might be interested in doing business with you. In the case of ERP software, a lead would be a business in need of a software solution for managing certain business functions (e.g. CRM, HR, SCM etc.)
How much do you need to know before a business is fully qualified as a lead?
The answer to this is often defined by sales. What is your strategy? Is it sufficient enough for you to just get a list of contact information? Do you need to know certain facts first like budget or what their current software setup is like? And as there are many sales teams with many strategies, that comes with just as many specifications on what they determine to be a qualified lead. The problems that arise with this question are the result of a disconnect between the one generating the B2B leads and the sales team that’s supposed to be pursuing them. As much as possible, both parties should come to common terms with each other.
Believe it or not, this can apply whether you outsource to lead generation companies or have your own in-house system for generating leads. The challenge still lies in clearly laying down the specifications to both parties.
Are the methods sufficient enough to gather the necessary information?
Asking this question determines what kind of tools your lead generator needs to employ in order to successfully acquire the information specified by sales. Some people would prefer if you actually heard it from the decision maker’s mouth. (This would be a good idea for ERP, given how specific some decision makers are about their issues.) This could imply telemarketing and it might even mean you need to set software appointments. Others would want to still have influence over the potential buyer’s final decision. Therefore, they would want the prospects referred to them immediately so long as there is interest.
How much will it cost?
And of course, cost will always be a concern. Do you spend more money generating sales leads than the amount you earn out of them? It’s basic business arithmetic. If the costs ultimately outweigh the benefits then you need to rethink your strategy. Even when you have the specifications of a qualified lead, its overall quality diminishes if the cost of generating it is too high. This will require a little review on what you need to know about your prospects and what it would take to find out. Some companies decide to outsource when the process becomes too expensive and too distant from their core functions. Others have more confidence in their own ability and just find ways to make it more cost-efficient.
The quality of a lead isn’t always so ambiguous. You just need to ask the right people (like sales), determine their specifications (like how much information they need), learn what it will take to get it (e.g. telemarketing), and check if the costs outweigh the benefits.